Illegal Immigrants Not Welcome In Payson, Council Says

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The Payson Town Council wants to send a message to undocumented workers that they are not welcome in Payson.

On Thursday night, the council directed its legal staff to prepare a document that would crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers.

The new ordinance would also prevent landlords from renting to undocumented workers.

Police Chief Gordon Gartner said there is not much his department can do when coming across an undocumented worker.

Mayor Bob Edwards said it is not fair that some employers are playing by the rules, while others are not.

He asked if the council could simply require employees to have I-9 forms for all workers in the town.

An I-9 form is required by the federal government as proof that a worker is legally entitled to work in the United States.

Edward said, if false I-9 forms are filed, the town could pull the business license.

"That offers the best chance for success," said Town Attorney Sam Streichman. "(Controlling illegal immigration) from an employer standpoint is the best way to go."

Edwards wanted to know if the town could require all employers to sign an affidavit stating that all employees working at a business are legal.

Streichman said they could be required to do so before getting a business license.

Councilor Mike Vogel said he has friends who have been hurt by employers who hire undocumented workers at incredibly low wages.

He said the town should require contractors to put their business contractor's license on the trucks they drive.

Edwards said the town has to solve the problem for Payson.

The mayor said he thinks landscaping and construction companies are the most common employers of undocumented workers.

Councilor Tim Fruth, who recently returned from a meth conference, said one of the problems is that the illegal immigrants are bringing methamphetamine into the community.

"It is what it is," he said. "It is not right we have suppressed wages. Is it a problem locally? I am here to say it is."

Edwards said he thinks that once word gets out that undocumented workers cannot get a job in Payson, it would slow them from coming to the Rim Country.

"We have to get real about this issue," Edwards said.

Vogel made a motion that directed legal staff to ensure employers have workers' compensation, a business license and a signed affidavit promising the legality of all employees.

Streichman said, if someone lies on an affidavit, that is a government document, it is a felony.

Edwards told the legal department to keep the document as simple as possible, but asked there be "some teeth in it."

Town Manager Fred Carpenter asked the council to be patient, because the town wants to do this right.

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